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Can subjective mortality expectations and stated preferences explain varying consumption and saving behaviors among the elderly?

  • Martin Salm

    ()

    (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

This study investigates how subjective mortality expectations and heterogeneity in time and risk preferences affect the consumption and saving behavior of the elderly. Previous studies find that the large wealth disparities observed among the elderly cannot be explained by differences in preferences. In contrast, this study identifies a strong relationship between answers to survey questions about time and risk preferences and consumption and saving behaviors. This paper uses data on information about preferences and subjective mortality expectations from the Health and Retirement Study merged with detailed consumption data from two waves of the Consumption and Activities Mail Survey. The main results are: 1) consumption and saving choices vary with subjective mortality rates in a way that is consistent with the life cycle model; 2) different answers to survey questions about time and risk preferences reflect differences in actual saving and consumption behavior; and 3) there is substantial heterogeneity in estimated time discount rates and risk aversion parameters.

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Paper provided by Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in its series MEA discussion paper series with number 06111.

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Date of creation: 31 Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:06111
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  3. Li Gan & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden, 2005. "Individual Subjective Survival Curves," NBER Chapters, in: Analyses in the Economics of Aging, pages 377-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Skinner & Steven Weinberg, 1997. "What Accounts for the Variation in Retirement Wealth Among U.S. Households?," NBER Working Papers 6227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1985. "Expectations, Life Expectancy, and Economic Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 389-408, May.
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  12. V. Kerry Smith & Donald H. Taylor & Frank A. Sloan, 2001. "Longevity Expectations and Death: Can People Predict Their Own Demise?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1126-1134, September.
  13. Bernheim, B. Douglas, 2002. "Taxation and saving," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 1173-1249 Elsevier.
  14. Kapteyn, Arie & Federica Teppa, 2002. "Hypothetical Intertemporal Consumption Choices," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 111, Royal Economic Society.
  15. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2004. "Do the Rich Save More?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 397-444, April.
  16. Barbara A. Butrica & Richard W. Johnson & Joshua H. Goldwyn, 2005. "Understanding Expenditure Patterns in Retirement," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2005-3, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jan 2005.
  17. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
  18. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2005. "Consumption versus Expenditure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 919-948, October.
  19. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-02, McMaster University.
  20. Jonathan Parker & Bruce Preston, 2002. "Precautionary Saving and Consumption Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 9196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  22. Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 1997. "The Predictive Validity of Subjective Probabilities of Survival," NBER Working Papers 6193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Palumbo, Michael G, 1999. "Uncertain Medical Expenses and Precautionary Saving Near the End of the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 395-421, April.
  24. Hurd, Michael D, 1990. "Research on the Elderly: Economic Status, Retirement, and Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 565-637, June.
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